singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
31 December 2018
(listening through speakers)Avid Acutus
Funk F·XRII
Benz Micro LP-S
Linn Kilmax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove Mk 2
TEAD Vibe Phoenix / Pulse 2
TEAD Linear A mk 2
TEAD Model One

It’s New Year’s Eve. I’ve always hated New Year’s Eve. I love Christmas, and this is the end of it. How can you possibly celebrate the end of Christmas?

Even when I was 18 I hated going out on New Year’s Eve. Pubs clogged up with people who don’t know how pubs work. (These are the same people who now have to try every ice cream flavour when you’re behind them, and you know exactly what you want, but there’s only one person serving.)

Then there’s the scheduled fun angle. Nothing is less fun than scheduled fun, and no scheduled fun is less scheduled fun than fun that’s scheduled for you’re wrecked from a week of not enough sleep and too much of everything else.

And why? Why celebrate the arbitrary ticking round of the calendar? My friend stopped his motorbike and took a photo of his odometer when it hit 8008.5 miles. That’s more worthy of opening a shit bottle of fizz. It only happens once, for a start. I’ve never looked back, never looked forward. I don’t think either are particularly healthy. And there are fireworks, god, I hate fireworks. Maybe if I was a peasant in 16th century China they’d impress me, but I’ve seen Jurassic Park. It takes more than a bang and a purple flash now.

And is Jools Holland still on the telly? I bet he is. See. The whole thing’s a nightmare. (Loved him in Squeeze though.)

A couple of days ago I met a friend for lunch. I was less late than her, so while I was waiting, I popped into Record Collector for five minutes, which was enough time to buy six records.

There were so many things I already had in the 7” boxes that I wanted to run home and make sure we hadn’t been burgled. Most of it was late-90s space rock, which I had a real thing for. All the following records have come from a damp house or store. The sleeves and inserts have spent the last 48 hours airing, any mildew or discolouration has been cleaned with some combination of Goo Gone, isopropanol, and putty rubber; inner and exterior polys have been replaced. The vinyl, of course, has been thoroughly cleaned on the Loricraft. Record collecting: I love it.

So, let’s rebel against the spirit of nostalgia and looking at the past by, er, talking about a bunch of twenty-year-old records.

First up is Light, who I’ve never heard of. I bought this because it’s on Wurlitzer Jukebox, a fine imprint. The inserts (you always got a lot of inserts with these kinds of records) illustrate how the world has changed since this music was made. They’re photocopied, for a start, on an actual photocopier. The label catalogue list prices are one pound for a flexidisc, and two for a seven inch. What’s a seven inch cost today? Minimum of 7.99. CDs were a tenner, which they pretty much still are. No vinyl albums, because absolutely no one bought vinyl albums in 1995.

Turning is an abstract sheet of shimmering pastoral noise. The soundtrack to a very strange event no one would believe had happened. Presence is similar, but brings rhythm and a hint of tonality before closing with a long, loud, blast of pure noise. Pretty decent.

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In which someone muses about the human condition over an unimaginative drumbeat and some electronic noodlings. I do a fair bit of musing over the human condition myself, and I probably do it at least as well as this. And I even try the odd joke. (There’s one in this page. Can you find it?)

Is this a bit Arab Strappy, or am I just racially stereotyping based on the Scottish accent?

The insert says that this record is part 6 of the “Stress Free” 7” series. It also says that part 7 is a run of 200 lathe-cut singles in a box. I’ve got that. I’ve had it for twenty years. I presume you were supposed to put the other six in number seven’s box. I’ll do that, along with:

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Yellow 6, (or is it Yellow6?) is still going today, still releasing a Christmas record every year, and still doing the abstracted droney thing. This (part 1 of aforementioned “Stress Free” series) is a good one, noisy but calming. The ‘b’ would have made a belting 20-minute-plus job. Easily the best record so far. It’s also going in the box, and whilst the box is out, let’s have the Flowchart one.

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You never knew what you were going to get with Flowchart. Could have been Stereolab (Another Radiolab Rip-Off); could have been something quite poppy with the girl singer; or could have been something like this, which is altogether more difficult to categorize.

Gip part 1 is mostly cut-up rhythmic noise, but by the end we’ve been introduced to a blissy riff, a sample of a man talking, and what sounds a bit like DJ Rubbish’s terrible scratching.

Gip part 2 is a long sample telling a snippet of a story where everything goes “oink”. As the song itself says: “It was terribly confusing”. And also disappointing. But it doesn’t matter. According to the insert, Enraptured singles at this time (1999) were £2.75 (this one was probably more, being a lathe-cut in a box) and for that kind of coin you could take a punt and not be too fussed if you bought a lemon. With the current price of new sevens, I’m reluctant to take that chance. (Also I feel like I’m being reamed in the cake.)

And to top it all, the other records don’t fit in the box.

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Still on Enraptured, and possibly their first release. If so, what a way to begin.

Windy and Carl are always brilliant. Ostensibly anyone could do what they do: it’s just a couple of chords, the odd bass note and a ton of reverb, but they always make it magical. The ‘a’ is gorgeous and uplifting, despite a dark, harsh tone.

Lovely tracing-paper sleeve, hand-numbered, and an insert that tells us Windy and Carl have released two other singles. You’d have been wise to have started following them at this point.

The sleeve also bears the logo and contact address (PO Box – it’s 1995) for The Vinyl Preservation Society. All you craft-sipping bearded dads with your Elbow reprints, and all you narcissists instagramming your classic “vinyls”, thank people like Enraptured, and, if I may, people like me, for just about keeping it all afloat through the mid ’90s. You’re welcome. It’s thanks to us you have records at all, and thanks to you we have to pay through the nose for everything. You pricks.

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If there’s one thing better than a 7” series, it’s a split 7” series. Here is #1 of a series on Awkward Silence. No? Me neither.

These are bang up-to-date (2000), with email addresses for the artists, and a picture of a big fat CRT-fronted, 5.25” floppy-equipped desktop on the back. I’m tempted to say “proper computer”, but it would almost certainly have been running an early Windows, so I won’t. The sleeves are Ziploc style, but the contents smell at least as old and musty as the other records in this batch, so clearly Ziploc bags don’t work. (And also are single-use plastic, so will inevitably end up choking a turtle in Polynesia. So don’t do it.)

Both artists do similar loopy drum-machine/sampler things that take me back to when I dabbled in electronic music. That was in the mid 1980s, and it was next to impossible to get anything done, because everything crashed all the time. You couldn’t synchronize things either. We had two Spectrums (Spectra?), with Specdrum on one and a sequencer on the other, and we had to count in and start them at the same time. One would always drift. Kids today don’t know they’re born. Bloody kids. They also have no respect for their elders.

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Interesting: Yellow 6 wrote a song, and sent the chords to Portal. We even get a photocopy of them on the insert.

They both made a track, and here they are. They’re surprisingly similar in approach: Yellow 6’s is noisier, more organic, and better, but Portal’s has its own (mechanical) charm. On the next record they did the same thing the other way round.

From the inserts: Andi Chunky gets a namecheck: I used to buy stuff off him. Yellow 6 had a demon.co.uk email address. I hope he still does. If you couldn’t email, you could write c/o the label. “Yellow 6 previously released Perception Received on Enraptured”: we listened to that earlier.

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At this time of year our sacred texts instruct us to Look to the Future Now, it’s Only Just Begun. With that in mind, let’s close on a new record.

On Box Bedroom Rebels, this is an EP of clear-skied, hook-filled, crunchy-bassed indiepop. A lot of these BBR records pull together old music, and I’m not certain when most of this is from. A kind person (me) might say it sounds timeless, an unkind person (you) might call it derivative. God, you make me sick sometimes.

And you’d be doubly wrong, because there’s plenty of variety here, from lo-fi fuzzed-up (almost) indie-rock (I Don’t Wanna Die), to John Hughes-‘80s-soundtracky (Neuromancer) to Cher cover version (Bleev). Slight reminders of early Best Coast. Nice.

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